Bikol clefts and topics and the Austronesian subject-only extraction restriction

Michael Yoshitaka Erlewine (joint work with Cheryl Lim)

Many Austronesian languages exhibit an extraction asymmetry whereby only the subject DP can be A'-extracted. We show that such extraction restrictions can vary between different A'-constructions in Bikol: local clefting is limited to the subject, whereas topicalization can target subjects and non-subject agents, but not other non-subject DPs. Following the phase-theoretic, locality-based approach to such extraction asymmetries in related Austronesian languages, we propose that clefting and topicalization differ in the featural specifications of their probes, but must always attract their closest matching goal. Evidence for this approach comes from interactions between clefting, topicalization, and hanging topic left dislocation in long-distance configurations. Such data motivates the view that the classic Austronesian subject-only extraction restriction is best characterized in terms of syntactic locality, rather than as a restriction on the grammatical function or morphological case of movement targets.